Apparently, HBO is producing a TV version of Charlaine Harris's Sookie Stackhouse novels, and it will star Anna Paquin, an actress I actually like! She's perfect for the role of a young, vulnerable woman with an unusual power--actually, she's already played that role and kicked ass in it.
The shock of getting good news regarding a TV/film adaptation of a Wordcandy book left me a little shaky, but I was able to regain my equilibrium by realizing that chances are still good that I'll hate it, regardless of who the main star is. So, yes, the world is still spinning safely on its axis. [Source]
I can't believe how much better children's book cover art has gotten in the past ten years. When I was a kid the majority of children's book covers were terrible--lots of cheesy, semi-realistic drawings of awkwardly posed kids set against garish backgrounds. (There were a few notable exceptions, sure, but dorky ugliness did seem to be the prevailing fashion.) But if you go into the children's book section of your local bookstore today, you're going to see a number of books like this one--richly colored and elegantly designed:
Isn't that gorgeous? And it's even more appealing in reality. (It's drawn by the same artist who's done some covers for The Decemberists, in case you were wondering where you'd seen that style before.) I don't know if the books themselves are any better than they were when I was a kid, but it's wonderful to finally see them getting the cover art they deserve.
...but I am actually about to recommend a Marvel comic book.
Runaways is unexpectedly awesome. This series, about a group of teenagers who discover that their respectable California parents are leading double lives as a cabal of supervillains, is funny, touching, and smart. The artwork is mediocre, and I'm told that Joss Whedon is about to take over as head writer (longtime readers know that I look at any Whedon project with suspicion, having never forgiven him for the last two seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer), but I'm enjoying myself too much to care. And at a mere $7.99 per volume, they're even reasonably priced!
At long last, someone has translated Sergei Lukyanenko's novel Nightwatch. (Thank you, Andrew Bromfield and Miramax Books!) If you haven't seen the movie based on this bizarre, elaborate, sprawling fantasy novel, then you truly missed out on one of the weirder cinematic delights of 2006. If you did see it, and you're eager to know what happens next, than the English translations of Daywatch and Duskwatch are due out in March and June, respectively.
Artist Anne Timmons and writer Trina Robbins are doing a graphic novel adaptation of Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey as part of a collection for the Graphic Classics line. Details are sketchy, but the book is due out in May. (Timmons has featured additional artwork on her blog, if you're curious.) I'm really excited about this--I think Northanger Abbey will make a great comic book. [Source]
Jennifer Colt is featuring a "Bookapalooza" contest on her site, giving away 100 copies of The Butcher of Beverly Hills, The Mangler of Malibu Canyon, and The Vampire of Venice Beach. For details, click here.
Jennifer Crusie's website is continuing to run its "Tea With Jenny" contest, featuring a tea set and an autographed book. Details here.
Enter the maze contest on Janet Evanovich's site to win an "I (heart) Morelli" hat. Details here.
Jayne Ann Krentz's monthly contest prize is an autographed copy of her book Flash. Details here.
How come only women writers offer prizes, anyway? Don't guys like to win stuff, too?
If you're in the market for some truly beautiful comic books, I suggest you take a look at Chris Ware's stuff. Not only is it jaw-droppingly gorgeous, but it's also remarkably entertaining. Here's the publishers' description of his book Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth:
"This first book from Chicago author Chris Ware is a pleasantly-decorated view at a lonely and emotionally-impaired "everyman" (Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth), who is provided, at age 36, the opportunity to meet his father for the first time. An improvisatory romance which gingerly deports itself between 1890's Chicago and 1980's small town Michigan, the reader is helped along by thousands of colored illustrations and diagrams, which, when read rapidly in sequence, provide a convincing illusion of life and movement. The bulk of the work is supported by fold-out instructions, an index, paper cut-outs, and a brief apology, all of which concrete to form a rich portrait of a man stunted by a paralyzing fear of being disliked."
I'm not sure if it totally delivers on the "rich portrait of a man stunted by a paralyzing fear of being disliked" front, but it sure is pretty.
I went to pick up Natural Born Charmer by Susan Elizabeth Phillips this week and boy, was I wrong about the background color on this cover art! On my computer screen it's this really warm salmon/coral-y color. In reality it is a 90s day-glow orange that totally overwhelms the teal dress. It looks bad. Really bad. I can only hope that they fix this by the time the paperback version comes out....
In honor of Valentine's Day, here's a bizarre little love poem from John Donne. (Please note: This may not be to everybody's taste. If you're looking for something a little more conventional, try this. Or just do a search for some of the previous "Wordcandy loves..." posts, because let me tell you: we have posted some super-hot poetry on this blog.)
"The Flea" by John Donne
Mark but this flea, and mark in this, How little that which thou deniest me is; It suck'd me first, and now sucks thee, And in this flea our two bloods mingled be. Thou know'st that this cannot be said A sin, nor shame, nor loss of maidenhead;
Yet this enjoys before it woo, And pamper'd swells with one blood made of two; And this, alas! is more than we would do.
O stay, three lives in one flea spare, Where we almost, yea, more than married are. This flea is you and I, and this Our marriage bed, and marriage temple is. Though parents grudge, and you, we're met, And cloister'd in these living walls of jet.
Though use make you apt to kill me, Let not to that self-murder added be, And sacrilege, three sins in killing three.
Cruel and sudden, hast thou since Purpled thy nail in blood of innocence? Wherein could this flea guilty be, Except in that drop which it suck'd from thee? Yet thou triumph'st, and say'st that thou Find'st not thyself nor me the weaker now.
'Tis true; then learn how false fears be; Just so much honour, when thou yield'st to me, Will waste, as this flea's death took life from thee.
The trailer is out for the new Nancy Drew movie and I have to say: I am not sure that I'm going to enjoy this film. Maybe it is all of the Veronica Mars I've been watching for the past few years, but I just can't see Emma Roberts as Nancy.
Beloved Wordcandy author Jennifer Colt has two appearances scheduled for April: one on Saturday, April 7th at 6:00PM at The Mystery Bookstore in LA, and one on Saturday, April 21st at 4:00PM at Mysterious Galaxy Books in San Diego. Her newsletter promises chocolate bat cookies, Vampire wine, prizes, and a chance to meet with one of her more outlandish characters. It looks like it's going to be a very good time, and we encourage any of you in the area to check it out. Ms. Colt's next book, The Vampire of Venice Beach, is due out on March 27th, and we're really looking forward to reading it!
Again, did we mention the bat cookies? Look at 'em! They're worth the trip by themselves!
We're rarely happy about Wordcandy movie adaptations, but we've found that if we play it safe and keep our expectations very, very low, we can usually get through them without too much trauma. Unfortunately, we're hearing rumors of several jaw-droppingly terrible movies coming down the pike, including...
A) a film called Malice in Sunderland, which will apparently be a "modern take on the classic fairytale, Alice in Wonderland, set in the North East of England". Even if they hadn't called Alice a fairytale--which it isn't--and hadn't given this book such an unbelievably stupid title, I'd still hate it, because they've cast freakin' Mischa Barton in the main role. Ugh, ugh, ugh.
B) Becoming Jane, a "biographical portrait of a pre-fame Jane Austen and her romance with a young Irishman", starring Anne Hathaway. Didn't they already try sexing up Austen with the dread Mansfield Park adaptation? I'm not hearing good stuff about this one.
C) And, creepiest of all, TMZ is reporting that Tom Cruise is in talks with Ben Stiller to do a "humorous" updated version of The Hardy Boys. C'mon, Tom! We've already got the perfect project for you! What are you waiting for? [Source]
Valentine's Day is nearly upon us, and, as always, the Wordcandy staff is on the lookout for appropriate holiday reading. We understand that this is a holiday that evokes a wide array of emotions, so we've tried to pick books that will suit a variety of tastes.
If you're in a successful romantic relationship, and you can stomach an unabashedly happy story, try Jennifer Crusie's Bet Me.
If you're in a... well, quirky relationship, and you're looking for a story that will reassure you that the world is full of much more dysfunctional couples, try Yayoi Ogawa's Tramps Like Us.
If you've spent the past month thinking of February 14th as "Black Wednesday", try Laura Zigman's Animal Husbandry.
I have tried to ignore this story, but I can't escape it. I am sorry to report that Del Rey is going to release a manga in conjunction with the dread Avril Lavigne. You can read the press release here.
Brigid at MangaBlog has an interesting, largely positive review up of two interconnected manga volumes from the UK's Sweatdrop Studios: Blue is for Boys and Pink is for Girls. Both books feature nine stories from different genres (romance, action, fantasy, music, horror, etc.), but while both sets of stories are based on identical concepts, the "Blue" volume presents them as shounen manga, while the "Pink" volume presents them as shoujo. You can read the review here.
Masterpiece Theater has made a film adaptation of Phillip Pullman's The Ruby in the Smoke. It debuted last night, but chances are good you can catch it on repeats. The Ruby in the Smoke is not my favorite Pullman novel, but this adaptation looks like a fun little Victorian noir.
A few reactions, some Harry Potter bits, and another anime/manga rec:
1. I have now seen the first episode of the the Wallflower anime, and yes, the artwork is awful. (Plus, they chose a disturbingly girly voice actor for Sunako.) It could be worse, but I wouldn't pay money to watch something of this quality. Then again, thanks to YouTube, I don't have to. Overall grade: C-
2. I've seen Blood and Chocolate, too. If you go to watch a crappy horror movie, you'll be fine; if you go to see something like the book, you'll be profoundly disappointed. The filmmakers should have just called it Underworld III: This Time, No Vampires. In the movieverse, Adian is a sensitive graphic artist with carefully tousled hair, Gabriel is this Eurotrashy dude going through a midlife crisis, and Vivian is a dour young woman with a running fetish. Everybody spends a lot of time leaping off of walls.
Also, they used real wolves, which looked pretty cool when the pack was running around but got rather disturbing during fight scenes, and I didn't see one of those "No animals were harmed..." things at the end of the film. Overall Grade C+
3. More Harry Potter news Rowling has said that two "major" characters will die in the last installment of her Harry Potter series. I'll believe it when I see it. If you'd like a complete list of the bits and pieces of info Rowling has given readers on book seven, click here.
4. If you're looking for a cute, silly anime (and manga, if you're willing to brave IRC and hunt down the scanlations) that's appropriate for all ages, try Gakuen Alice. This series does a nice job of blending a G-rated romance/friendship story with a few darker plot elements. It's not Shakespeare, but it's a sight better than The Wallflower. Overall Grade: B
5. And, last but not least, Nathan gave me a DVD of the complete Goong series for my birthday, for which I am profoundly grateful. It's even better this time around, because I can fast-forward through all of the scenes featuring either A) the four main characters staring sadly into space, B) pointless flashbacks, or C) Yul's mother's yawn-inducing political machinations. If you can get your hands on this series--watch it online, get it from bittorrent, whatever--you should TOTALLY DO SO, because it is AWESOME. Overall Grade: A-
J.K. Rowling made the big announcement today: the seventh and final Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, will be published on July 21. Make reservations at your local book store now, and swing by the forums on the main site to lay your bets in our Harry Potter death pool! (Maybe we'll have to come up with prizes...)